The Pastor’s Plea

 
Early last month we had the privilege of hearing Tim Hall preach Philippians 4:1-3.
 
Phil. 4:1   Therefore, my brothers, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand
 
firm thus in the Lord, my beloved. 2   I entreat Euodia and I entreat Syntyche to agree in
 
the Lord. 3 Yes, I ask you also, true companion, help these women, who have labored
 
side by side with me in the gospel together with Clement and the rest of my fellow
 
workers, whose names are in the book of life.
 
If the Apostle Paul had to take time and valuable space in his epistle to the church at Philippi to
 
address conflict, we should not be surprised that we too have the same struggles as the early
 
church. Conflict is a constant problem and a continual opportunity.
 
Those who call themselves followers of Christ are not marked by absence of conflict, but rather
 
in the manner in which they respond to conflict when it arises. People who are brought near to
 
God by the death and resurrection of Jesus respond to conflict in a way that is markedly
 
different than the world.
 
Conflict is never fun. In fact, when the human body perceives a threat, our intrinsic God-given
 
response is fight or flight. Yet, when the presence of conflict comes, we must not flee from our
 
brother or sister in Christ or attack emotionally, verbally, or physically. Our loved ones, friends
 
family or fellow church members are not our enemies. In Ephesians 6, Paul boldly declares our
 
Eph. 6:10   Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. 11 Put on the
 
whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 12
 
For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the
 
authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual
 
forces of evil in the heavenly places.
 
When conflict comes, the most heroic and honorable act you can do is to have compassion for
 
the one who offended you. Compassion, not in a way that ignores or turns a blind eye to an
 
offense. But compassion that you see your brother or sister, family or friend as a person who,
 
like you, is also plagued by sin and is under spiritual attack and deception.
 
The kind of compassion that is heroic and honorable is one that goes to great lengths to use
 
such a conflict as an opportunity to glorify God, serve another, and grow to be like Christ. This
 
kind of response requires that we cast ourselves upon God’s love and reliance on His grace.
 
This heroic and honorable response is to pledge to respond to conflict according to the following
 
Glorify God – Instead of focusing on our own desires or dwelling on what others may do, we will
 
seek to please and honor God – by depending on His wisdom, power and love; by faithfully
 
obeying His commands; and by seeking to maintain a loving, merciful and forgiving attitude.
 
1 “Conflict: Our Constant Opportunity Field Guide,” Community Group Resources, accessed July
 
26, 2016, http://www.watermark.org/ministries/community/resources.
 
Get the log out of your own eye – Instead of attacking others or dwelling on their wrongs, we will
 
take responsibility for our own contribution to conflicts – confessing our sins, asking God to help
 
us change any attitudes and habits that lead to conflict and seeking to repair any harm we have
 
Go and show your brother his fault – Instead of pretending that conflict doesn’t exist or talking
 
about others behind their backs, we will choose to overlook minor offenses, or we will talk
 
directly and graciously with those whose offenses seem too serious to overlook. When a conflict
 
with another Christian cannot be resolved in private, we will ask others in the body of Christ to
 
help us settle the matter in a biblical manner.
 
Go and be reconciled – Instead of accepting premature compromise or allowing relationships to
 
wither, we will actively pursue genuine peace and reconciliation – forgiving others as God, for
 
Christ’s sake, has forgiven us, and seeking just and mutually beneficial solutions to our
 
I have a deep desire to see our church live as authentic followers of Christ, and I know you do
 
too. There is such great potential for what God could do through our Church body. We are
 
privileged with such abundant resources for God’s Kingdom. Yet, one of our most powerful tools
 
does not come through monetary investment. It comes through a risk to trust the Lord in how we
 
handle conflict— whether it is in our marriages, between friends, or fellow believers.
 
Before we can be fully useful to do outreach, we must be faithful to do “in-reach.” Ask God to
 
search your heart. Is there someone you are holding a grudge against? Are you irritated and
 
angry towards another who has hurt you? Prayerfully seek the Lord in how to react against the
 
sin within your own self and the sin that has come to you and offended you from others.
 
There will be no greater compelling and relevant church than the one that is experiencing
 
peace, joy and love when it gathers together to worship the one true God who has given us the
 
ministry of reconciliation (2 Cor. 5). When people on the outside see that kind of love that is
 
working on the inside of us and among those in our worship gathering, we will not be able to
 
build a facility that is large enough to contain those who want to have that same joy, hope and
 
love that is only known and experienced through Christ Jesus.
 
So, just as the Apostle Paul pleaded with Euodia and Syntyche, I also entreat you, go and be
 
reconciled with your brother or sister. I plead with you to agree in the Lord.